Ten weeks ago I tested positive for COVID, and two weeks later I took a break from blogging. The disease wasn’t overly bad for me—just a noticeable sore throat and some coughing—and I’m glad that I didn’t appear to get the Long variety. (I know a few people who did.)
But I could tell that the brain wasn’t at 100%, and I didn’t want to be posting my thoughts publicly when I was more likely even than usual to say something I’d later regret.
Providentially, right then we entered a point in the semester where I was crazily busy, busier than at any other time during the year. Fortunately, it’s a time I can see coming and get prepared for, but for several days it’s just Katie bar the door.
After that, the papers started to come in.
I’m one of those teachers who believes fervently in the importance of assigning writing, and specifically writing that requires thought (as opposed to those “discussion posts” you see the kids cranking out in their sleep for their online courses). As every teacher knows, the inescapable consequence of assigning thoughtful writing is that at some point you’re going to need to grade, or at least read, the output. Some of it grades pretty easily. But not all, my friend, not all.
My school used to have a policy that all major papers and projects needed to be due a few weeks before the end of the semester. That policy doesn’t exist anymore, but I still hold to the practice, for a couple of reasons. First, I need time to grade the work effectively, and the kids (or their parents) are paying a pretty penny for my due diligence. And second, it gives the students an opportunity to see their post-project grades when there’s still enough time in the semester to do something about them.
So. COVID, then post-COVID, then crazy busy, then paper-grading season. At that point I decided to just let the blog lie until the semester was done.
Commencement was a week ago, and we sent our 650 graduates off to take the next step. I had several faculty responsibilities that occupied the week following Commencement. But this past Friday I completed the last of those, and now it’s Summer Vacation.
When I began teaching full-time in 2000 (at the age of 46), I was delighted to discover that I had options for how I spent the summers. Early on I decided to look for opportunities to teach pro bono (as the lawyers say) in small Bible colleges overseas that could use some help. The first was in the summer of 2000 in the area of Cape Town. It was delightful, and not just because of the rooibos, biltong, and koeksisters.
Other opportunities followed. Saipan. Mexico. China. St Vincent. India. Haiti. And several delightful summers leading BJU student teams to minister in Africa, from Ghana to Kenya to Tanzania to Zambia to South Africa.
For six years I was my father’s caregiver during his dementia, and I was privileged to do that. Having the summers free really helped.
Well, the pandemic put the kibosh on international teaching, and in much of the world the situation’s still iffy. It’s simple enough to go teach overseas, but what if they change the rules in mid-trip? What if we can’t get back? These are not questions to dismiss lightly.
So this summer is a sabbatical. Not working anywhere officially. Teaching a handful of classes at my church, serving there in other ways as well. I have a study plan laid out, with fair amounts of reading and thinking and planning. And best of all, no inflexible deadlines. No reason not to be interrupted. Something needs to be fixed? Well, why not? Need something at the store, and traffic’s pretty heavy right now? No problem. All the time in the world. Smile and wave at the other drivers, and let that guy cut in.
Now, that environment’s just perfect for getting back into the rhythm of writing two blog posts a week. I’m looking forward to it.
Drop by the site in the days ahead if you care to.